Over the past number of months, the Premier has been proselytizing hard and furious, trying, almost desperately, to gain converts to the official state religion of Optimism.
Take, for instance, his remarks during a speech in Calgary in December
. Don't bother looking for the speech on the official Premierolicious website
, but never fear, the comms shop made sure the local media in Calgary obtained a copy, even if you didn't:
And in the past year, a global recession hit the world with a powerful and deep impact that left no one untouched.
Fortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador was one of the few jurisdictions in North America, and perhaps most of the world, that weathered the economic storm with a fairly healthy level of resilience.
When the global recession hit, unlike most we were ready for it. In fact, Global News said that Newfoundland and Labrador has weathered the recession better than any Canadian province or territory.
Similarly, in His year-ender with the Quebec Daily Newspaper
, he claimed:
But overall, Williams said the province was able to weather the economic storm as well, or better, than other provinces.
"Even though our mining, and our newsprint, and our fishing and our oil production were all down, our economy still chugged along very, very well," he said.
The premier said Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest consumer optimism in the country and most local businesses are doing well.
Extraordinary claims, given what the official stats show. And extraordinary claims, as Carl Sagan said, demand extraordinary evidence.
What is the evidence?
Well, unless local business have been simultaneously doing well and shedding jobs
, the evidence does not look good. Again, let's concentrate, for a reason, on self-employment and private-sector employment up to May 2009 (the most recent data available).
This chart takes the trailing twelve-month average (to smooth out seasonality) of the sum of private-sector employment and self-employment, and then indexes those values to the figure for January 2000. We thus get a picture of the relative
change in the size of the private-sector labour force, provincially and nationally, over the past ten years. How does the provincial figure compare to the all-Canada one?
The 2000s started on a bit of a sour note, but then, more than two years before there was a Williams to effect a Williams Effect, the provincial private-sector employment picture began to improve. By mid-decade, the provincial growth rate had pulled even with the all-Canada rate, as compared to the January 2000 starting point.
Then, things went pear-shaped. The private-sector employment and self-employment labour force in Newfoundland and Labrador began to shrink in 2007 — at almost exactly the time that the Church of the Oly Hoptimism started its missionary work with such zeal.
And whatever Global News might think — or, for that matter, Danny Williams — the Newfoundland and Labrador economy, at least as measured by change in the number of people who are privately employed or self-employed, has performed near the bottom among all provinces. Again, this comparison, among all provinces this time (territorial data is not kept) shows the relative change since January 2000.
Once again, note the curve for Newfoundland and Labrador (the thickest, darkest green line): the slump in private-sector employment started earlier than any other province, was (at least until mid-2009) deeper than in any other province, and has been as steep, or steeper, than in any other province.
The only thing that keeps Newfoundland and Labrador from ranking dead last among all provinces in its private-sector employment performance during the 2000s is the fact that Saskatchewan started the decade massively shedding people, jobs, and economic activity across its seamless border with Alberta. (It has since made up lost ground, and then some, to the point where there are a whole bunch of indicators that would suggest Saskatchewan hasn't really had a recession at all.)
[Data source for both charts: Statistics Canada Table 282-0011, Labour force survey estimates (LFS), employment by class of worker]
Labels: pretty charts, Williams Effect